Self Help for Healthcare Workers
As healthcare workers we have been called to provide care to others. This may often mean we do not take time to care for ourselves. During this stressful time, we want to provide you with some helpful resources to use in your own care.
The best way to process your feelings and grief is by talking about it. Anxiousness, depression, increased substance use, and insomnia are all common among anyone dealing with COVID-19, but especially for healthcare workers experiencing it every day. Find worksheets, podcasts, videos and more to help yourself feel better and less stressed.
If you are having a crisis and need immediate assistance, please call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.
Dealing with Stress during the Outbreak
A strong service-orientation, a lack of time, difficulties in acknowledging or recognizing their own needs, stigma, and fear of being removed from their duties during a crisis may prevent staff from requesting support if they are experiencing stress reactions. Given this, employers should be proactive in encouraging supportive care in an atmosphere free of stigma, coercion, and fear of negative consequences.
Self-care for health care workers can be complex and challenging, given that people in these roles may prioritize the needs of others over their own needs. Therefore, a self-care strategy should be multi-faceted and phased properly to support the sense of control and contribution of health care providers without making them feel unrealistically responsible for the lives of patients.
(Adapted from National Center for PTSD; US Dept of Veterans Affairs)
Helpful Work Shift Behaviors:
- Self-monitoring and pacing
- Regular check-ins with colleagues, family, and friends
- Working in partnerships or in teams
- Brief relaxation/stress management breaks
- Regular peer consultation and supervision
- Time-outs for basic bodily care and refreshment
- Regularly seeking out information and mentoring to assist in making decisions
- Keeping anxieties conscribed to actual threats
- Doing their best to maintain helpful self-talk and avoid overgeneralizing fears
- Focusing their efforts on what is within their power
- Acceptance of situations they cannot change
- Fostering a spirit of fortitude, patience, tolerance, and hope
Work Shift Behaviors To Avoid:
- Working too long by themselves without checking in with colleagues
- Working “round the clock” with few breaks
- Feeling that they are not doing enough
- Excessive intake of sweets and caffeine
- Engaging in self-talk and attitudinal obstacles to self-care, such as:
- “It would be selfish to take time to rest.”
- “Others are working around the clock, so should I.”
- “The needs of survivors are more important than the needs of helpers.”
- “I can contribute the most by working all the time.”
- “Only I can do. . ..”
(Adapted from National Center for PTSD; US Dept of Veterans Affairs)
- Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
- 6 Simple Steps for Self-Compassion During COVID-19
- Nourishing Your Mind and Body: Manage Stress for Better Health
- Staying Resilient During COVID-19
- Self Help – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Anxiety self-help guide
- 4 Self-Care Tips for How to Deal with Anxiety
- Self Help for Anxiety
Anxiety Resources for Parents
- Sleep Tools & Tips
- Healthy Sleep Tips
- Sleep Hygiene
- Relaxation Exercises for Falling Asleep
- Shift Work – Treatment
- Shift Work Sleep Tips
- Therapy for Sleep Disorders
- Self-Care Options for Insomnia
- Insomnia treatment: Cognitive behavioral therapy instead of sleeping pills
- Tools and Tricks to Calm Your Anxiety and (Finally) Get Some Sleep
Substance Use Resources
Someone Died in My Care
- Collective Vulnerability during COVID-19 (3 min)
- Loss and Grief During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Webinar from Columbia Univesity School of Social Work with strategies for processing grief and loss (38 min).
- Grief and Loss in the Workplace During COVID-19
- A guide to supporting others through grief
- Bereavement & Grief
- 5 Coping Skills to Work through Grief
- Coping with Ambiguous Loss
- “Ambiguous loss is an uncertain loss without clear boundaries or resolution.”
Strategies for Mitigating Psychological Distress in Healthcare Providers
- Communicate. Communicate with colleagues clearly and in an optimistic manner. Identify mistakes or deficiencies in a constructive manner and correct them. Compliment each other—compliments can be powerful motivators and stress moderators. Share your frustrations and your solutions. Problem solving is a professional skill that often provides a feeling of accomplishment even for small problems.
- Monitor basic needs. Be sure to eat, drink and sleep regularly. Becoming biologically deprived puts you at risk and may also compromise your ability to care for patients.
- Take a break. Give yourself a rest from tending to patients. Allow yourself to do something unrelated to the traumatic event that you find comforting, fun or relaxing. Some people may feel guilty if they are not working full- time or are taking time to enjoy themselves when so many others are suffering. Recognize that taking appropriate rest leads to proper care of patients after your break.
- Connect. Talk to your colleagues and receive support from one another. Infectious outbreaks can isolate people in fear and anxiety. Tell your story and
listen to others’ stories.
- Reach out. Contact your loved ones, if possible. They are an anchor of support outside the healthcare system. Sharing and staying connected may help them better support you.
- Understand differences. Some people need to talk while others need to be alone. Recognize and respect these differences in yourself, your patients and your colleagues.
- Stay updated. Participate in meetings to stay informed of the situation, plans and events.
- Check in with yourself. Monitor yourself over time for any symptoms of depression or stress disorder: prolonged sadness, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories, hopelessness. Seek professional help if needed.
Honor your service. Remind yourself that despite obstacles or frustrations, you are fulfilling a noble calling—taking care of those most in need. Recognize your colleagues—either formally or informally—for their service.
I Know Someone in Crisis
As helping professionals, we are focused on caring for others. This fact makes it very likely that we will see the signs of distress in our colleagues, and may notice it before they recognize it themselves.
I'm Having Suicidal Thoughts
General Self-Help Resources
- Physician Support Line provides information and tips on coping with the pandemic, boredom, anxiety, and sleep, among other topics. This information is applicable beyond physicians.
- Scotland’s National Health Information Service provides information and self-help guides to a variety mental health topics.
- Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement offers mental health support for COVID-19 Caregivers.
- North Dakota Behavioral Health Division COVID-19 resources